Aging, Economic Growth, and Old-Age Security in Asia

Aging, Economic Growth, and Old-Age Security in Asia

Edited by Donghyun Park, Sang-Hyop Lee and Andrew Mason

First, the expert contributors argue, Asia must find ways to sustain rapid economic growth in the face of less favorable demographics, which implies slower growth of the workforce. Second, they contend, Asia must find ways to deliver affordable, adequate, and sustainable old-age economic security for its growing elderly population. Underpinned by rigorous analysis, a wide range of concrete policy options for sustaining economic growth while delivering economic security for the elderly are then presented. These include Asia-wide policy options – relevant to the entire region – such as building up strong national pension systems, while other policy options are more relevant to sub-groups of countries.

Chapter 9: Summary of key findings and main policy recommendations

Donghyun Park

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, development studies, asian development, social policy and sociology, ageing


The following summary sheds light on developing Asia's main demographic trends and their implications for the region's growth and old-age support systems. On the basis of those findings, we propose a number of policy options that will help to sustain growth and provide economic security for the elderly. Population aging-an increase in the share of the elderly population over time-is occurring across all of developing Asia and not just in the newly industrialized economies (NIEs) but in those at lower levels of income and development as well. For the region as a whole, favorable demographics will be a less significant source of economic growth in the future. The level and speed of the demographic transition vary considerably from country to country. Broadly speaking, there are three demographic profiles: (1) countries at advanced stages of aging, like the Republic of Korea and Singapore; (2) countries in the middle of aging, like the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Thailand; and (3) countries still at the early stages of the demographic transition, like India and the Philippines. Even countries in the advanced stages will become much older than they are today. In relatively young countries like Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, working-age populations will grow relative to dependent populations, and favorable demographic conditions should persist for at least the next 15 years. The exact size of the first demographic dividend depends on age patterns of labor income and consumption, but it is significant. Even in these young countries, however, the dividend will decline over time. Although the demographic transition is in its early stages, it is nevertheless under way and the countries are gradually evolving toward older populations. The demographic window of opportunity is larger and will last longer than elsewhere, but it is nevertheless beginning to close.

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